Where does faith come from?
That question popped in my head today after I read this in Romans 4:
Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”[d] 19Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 22This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” 23The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.
Where did Abraham’s faith come from, and where can I get faith like that?
I have faith that the ground is going to hold me up when I stand up to walk. I have faith that the trees outside will most likely stay rooted in the ground and won’t come crashing down on me when I go for a walk in the woods. But that’s a different kind of faith, isn’t it?
In Romans 10, Paul teaches us that we get our faith from hearing the Word:
Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
There are so many references to faith in the Bible that I can’t possibly write them all here. I’ve looked at many in the New Testament, and in each one the Greek word is pistis, which means conviction and strong belief in the truth as it pertains to God and to Christ.
I am somewhat encouraged in my need for a refill of faith when I see that Peter — the Rock — the same one who saw all Jesus’ miracles first-hand, had trouble believing. Peter was amazed to see that a tree that Jesus cursed had withered and died within one day:
1Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!” 22“Have[f] faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23“I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. 24Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
Usually I pay attention to the part of the verse about the mountain falling off into the sea, but today a tiny verb grabbed my attention…the word HAVE. Jesus gave us a simple command about faith. He tells us to HAVE it. The word for HAVE is echo, and digging deeper into what it means reveals a little more about what Jesus meant. HAVE isn’t just HAVE the way we use it casually, as in, “have a good day!” No, echo means “to have” in the sense of holding onto something in your hand or in your mind…it means to own, to possess, and to cling to.
Hmmm. In light of that definition, I see that Jesus is telling me to cling to my faith in God. Hold onto it like my daughter holds onto my hand when we cross a busy street. Possess it in my mind. Keep it ever present in my thoughts…keep a strong conviction in my mind that God WILL DO what he promises.
The act of clinging to faith implies that faith is something that can be grasped. It is an invisible power that is grasped in our minds and in our hearts.
Who would have thought a little bitty word like HAVE could change the landscape of my ideas about faith? Now, that’s what I call getting a refill!